Tuesday, May 17, 2011A.A. Women – Non-Alcoholics – Who Helped Found A.A.
A.A. Women – Non-Alcoholics – Who Helped Found A.A.
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Women Actually Helping in A.A. Founding in Akron in the 1930’s?
Early A.A. was a Christian Fellowship. Its “membership” consisted of men only. Its founding occurred in June, 1935. Its first group was founded on July 4, 1935. And, by late 1937, its Christian program of recovery was in place. Unquestionably, the co-founders were Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith, and their first success was Akron attorney Bill Dotson. Dotson is known as A.A. Number Three. The ensuing Akron fellowship was a family program. Though not “members,” women taught, counseled, and attended meetings. Women hosted fellowship member visitors in their homes and answered their phone calls at times. Even the kids attended early meetings in Akron—the Smith children and the Seiberling children are good examples.
The following three are the women, highly intelligent teachers, devoted Christians, who were very much involved in prayers, teachings from the Bible, attending meetings, circulating religious literature, and observing Quiet Times.
The Three, Principal, Non-Alcoholic Women Important to Akron A.A. in the 1930’s
Anne Ripley Smith, wife of A.A. co-founder Dr. Bob Smith. Anne was a graduate of Wellesley. She had been a teacher. She served early AAs as cook, housekeeper, teacher, counselor, evangelist, and strong Bible advocate. Anne and her husband Dr. Bob were charter members of an Akron Presbyterian Church. And early A.A. was founded in their home at 855 Ardmore Avenue in Akron. See Dick B., Anne Smith’s Journal-1939: A.A.’s Principles of Success, 3rd ed. (www.dickb.com/annesm.shtml). I have recently posted several articles about Anne Smith’s teachings on my blog site, www.mauihistorian.blogspot.com
Henrietta Buckler Seiberling was the woman who persuaded Dr. Bob to pray with his group for Bob’s own deliverance from alcoholism. She was a graduate of Vassar and a Presbyterian. She fielded the call from stranger Bill Wilson that answered the group’s prayers. She introduced Bill Wilson to Dr. Bob Smith in her Gate Lodge home on the Seiberling Estate in Akron. And, according to one account, Henrietta “called the shots” at the regular Wednesday A.A. meetings. She taught from the Bible and devotionals. And she and her three children—John, Dorothy, and Mary—attended the early meetings. See Dick B., Henrietta B. Seiberling: Ohio’s Lady with a Cause, 4th ed. (Kihei, HI: Paradise Research Publications, Inc., 2006) – ISBN 1-885803-93-1
Clarace Williams, wife of T. Henry Williams, and the initiator of Oxford Group contacts by T. Henry in Akron. The story of T. Henry and his wife Clarace has scarcely been known or accurately reported. But the details are now available in Dick B., The Akron Genesis of Alcoholics Anonymous, 2d ed., pages 65-78. www.dickb.com/Akron.shtml. Key points regarding Clarace are these: (1) She was the second wife of T. Henry, marrying T. Henry in 1921. (2) Clarace had attended a Baptist missionary school in Chicago and went on to graduate from Ottowa University, a Christian institution in Ottowa, Kansas. (3) Clarace attended an Oxford Group gathering in Akron and later persuaded T. Henry to become interested. (4) She and T. Henry designed the home on Palisades Drive in Akron where the first “regular” weekly meetings of A.A. were held. (5) Clarace decided to go to Oxford and learn more about witnessing work. (6) Later she and T. Henry dedicated their home to God. (7) Both T. Henry and Clarace were close friends of Dr. Bob and Anne Smith; got to know Bill W. and then his wife Lois; and provided a Monday set-up meeting, the regular Wednesday meeting, and a Saturday social meeting for the fledgling alcoholics in Akron. (8) Clarace and T. Henry were non-drinkers, were devoted to their church and the Bible, and regularly observed Quiet Time and other Oxford Group practices (9) T. Henry had been a deacon in a large Baptist Church in Akron and a Sunday school teacher; but later he and Clarace joined a Methodist Church nearer to their home.
Posted by Dick B. at 5:59 PM